Guide to Hiring a Good Freelance Web Developer – Part I

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Posting your Task – Dos and Donts

I am a freelance developer and have been now for several years. I have recently started working for invite-only freelancer site (invite-only on the contractor side of course) called Codeable. The site specialises in WordPress and between the 123 WordPress expert contractors that work through the site there isn’t many WordPress tasks we can’t solve. If you post your task on Codeable you should be opening up yourself to getting your task completed by some of the top industry experts, but this is not the experience for everyone, as tasks frequently go uncommented or un-estimated, mostly because of the way the task has been posted. Hopefully these do’s and don’ts will help you get the best freelancer, I will start with the don’ts because in my opinion they are the most important.

Don’t

1: Don’t be indecisive

Top contractors are very busy, if it seems like your task needs a lot of discussion before it can even get to the pricing stage then they will avoid it. This time would be time spent without recompense and so they say… Time is money. If you don’t know exactly what you want or need to get you where you need to be, then it is best to post a task for a one hour consultation, these are available for a fixed fee on Codeable and can help you post a well-defined task that will have experts falling over themselves to post estimates.

2: Don’t digress too much from the task description

Busy developers don’t want to read your life story. They need to know enough information about the task you want to get done to be able to give an accurate estimate. So things like “Future Plans: [LIST HERE], or changes up to this point [List Here] are not needed.

3: Don’t post an unrealistic budget or task

You wouldn’t believe the amount of tasks I used to see on peopleperhour.com with the title “I want a site like Facebook” and a budget of $100 – if I could create a site like Facebook – a: I would probably already have done it for myself – and B: if I could do it for you I would sure charge a lot more than $100 – what is Mark Zuckerberg worth again?

4: Don’t say your task is super-urgent unless it really really is

If you say your task is super urgent and it isn’t you probably won’t get a response on quality based sites like Codeable and If you do get a response on a mass-based site like peopleperhour.com then you may wish you hadn’t. No one needs their site redesigned that urgently, and most good developers can’t take on a job that will take a day or more without at least 2 days notice. However, if your site is down – that is an emergency but unlike a site redesign or other big job it will only take an hour or less for a good developer to get most sites back up – this can be done in between jobs or even to give you a break from a large code base or a java-based headache J. What’s more because it is an emergency developers will respect your posting it as urgent and will be glad to step in and save your day.

Do’s

1: Explain in detail exactly what you want to get done

I kid you not, I have seen job descriptions saying “I want to change the layout of my homepage”. Now that client probably knew she wanted to move the sidebar from the right to the left, make the header fixed and floating, and move the map from above the content to below. Unfortunately no one else knew that. Explain exactly what you are looking for and you will get an accurate estimate, and a satisfying experience from start to finish.

2: Do provide a list of tasks

Now obviously this isn’t going to be possible for everyone or every task, it is completely natural and fine that some tasks need careful explanation for a single outcome. But if you can breakdown your task into a list or parts and specify them in a clear list then this  will not only make your task popular with developers because they can see clearly what you need at a glance, but also will ensure you get a very accurate estimate.

3: Do Consider the Age Old Adage – You Get What you Pay For

One of my fellow developers put this a very good way the other day – if you think it is expensive to hire a professional to get your work done – just wait until you hire an amateur. When you are looking at proposals don’t always be looking to choose the cheapest contractor – you might well get your fingers burned. Indeed, on Codeable there is no cheapest or most expensive, clients see only the average of all estimates, but this still applies… You could probably get your task done cheaper on another freelancer site, but you definitely could not get it done better.

4: Do Look Out for Part 2 of this Guide

Part II of this guide will give you some questions to ask to make sure you are hiring a true professional and not a costly mistake.

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